How a pint in the student bar led to a growing UK tech firm with offices in New York

Sometimes all you need is a pint and a strong work ethic.

That’s exactly how things began for Richard Hamnett, co-founder and CTO of ResponseTap, a leading call intelligence platform.

The Salford-based firm has come a long way since Richard and his business partner, Ross Fobian, shared their vision over a pint.

With more than 90 employees, offices in New York and about to celebrate its tenth birthday, ResponseTap is a great success story.

“ResponseTap was the result of a trip to the pub with Ross. We’d been introduced by a mutual friend and after a couple of beers and a long chat we came up with the conceptual idea. Within a few weeks we’d dropped everything and began setting up the business” said Richard.

Born and bred in Flixton he had ambitions to work in the IT industry from a young age.

His parents were hard-workers and encouraged his passion: “My dad was an engineer by trade, so I think I got my inquisitive mind from him. My parents practically had to force me to go outside because I constantly had my head in a computer or in a magazine about computers.”

Salford Quays
(Image: Anthony Mottram)

Known as the resident engineer at his primary school Richard soon became the go to for any IT queries. Although he enjoyed school he was easily distracted and chose not to continue on to sixth form as there wasn’t enough practical work on offer.

Instead he completed a BTEC in IT at North Trafford College and then embarked on a degree in multimedia and internet technology at Salford University. However, things didn’t go to plan.

He said: “After about a year I dropped out, the course just wasn’t for me, I was bored. My parents weren’t happy, they said I’d wasted their money and told me if I ever wanted to go back I had to pay for it myself.”

It turned out to be one of the best decisions he made. After a stint working for an internet dial-up company Richard was headhunted by a web design business, where he worked on various accounts including the 2004 Olympic Games.

He used this time to fund attending Manchester Metropolitan University, though once again didn’t complete his degree.

He said: “Whilst at MMU I started a telecoms software company and was doing some consulting on the side. The business was turning over three quarters of a million pounds and I was living in halls and driving a BMW.”

During this time, he was also an open source contributor for the Eclipse Foundation, which is owned by IBM.

They invited him to speak at its annual conference in San Francisco and the rest is history.

“While at the conference I met an evangelist from Microsoft and I was offered the opportunity to go and work in Seattle for a year as part of its computer programming team, it was an unbelievable experience and obviously meant I never went back to university.”

After the initial meeting in the pub Richard and business partner, Ross, wasted no time in building the foundations of ResponseTap.

Within two years of launching the platform integrated with Google Analytics and the company was named in the Telegraph’s Tech Start-Up 100, a list of the most promising technology start-ups in Europe.

Together they developed pioneering call tracking technology for digital marketing, PPC, search agencies and in-house marketers.

From humble beginnings ResponseTap now works with some of the UK’s largest agencies and brands including Aviva, Virgin Money, Cruise First, Go Ape, Wickes and WhatCar?

As ResponseTap approaches its tenth birthday there is much to be proud of but also a great deal to look forward to.

It has just launched its latest software, Smart Match, is welcoming upward of 50 new customers a month and will have more than 100 employees by the end of 2018.

“It’s exciting times, we’re growing as a team and as a business, constantly looking for innovative solutions to our customers’ problems” he said.

“If you’d told me ten years ago that a pint would lead to billions of web visits and having offices in Manchester and New York I would never have believed you, but we’re not stopping there, we’re constantly evolving and who knows what the next ten years has in store for us.”

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